The Bridgeport Masonic Lodge #162 is located in Bridgeport, Indiana, on the far west side of Indianapolis, Indiana. Our stated meetings are held on the first Wednesday of every month at 7:00 pm. We invite all brothers to come and visit us at our meetings.
The History of Bridgeport Lodge No. 162, F. & A. M.
In 1853, Bridgeport had a population of about 100, among them were several Masons. In the surrounding community there were also a number of Masons, all belonging to various Masonic Lodges. Their only contact with other Lodges was by horseback or driving horses. At that time, the National Road was a toll road and very narrow. In bad weather driving was a rather difficult task due to mud holes. As a result, visiting other Lodges was very infrequent. Several of the Masons in Bridgeport decided to do something about it and they did.
On February 6, 1854, the Grand Lodge looked with favor on their request to establish a Masonic Lodge in Bridgeport and granted them dispensation to organize Bridgeport Lodge No. 162 F.&A.M. These hardy pioneers erected a two story frame building located on Highway 840 and Bridgeport Road. The street floor was used as a general store and was rented to John Ingling. On May 24, 1854, the Grand Lodge granted the new Lodge a Charter which was signed by:
JOSEPH H. BALLARD
SAM G. OWEN
The Lodge soon outgrew its small quarters and an addition was built on the south side of the building. Our traditional oyster suppers at the Installation of Officers started in this building. This frame building with contents was destroyed by fire in 1896. The last meeting held there was on January 29, 1896. The dues at that time were 25 cents per month, payable monthly.
After the fire, the Lodge obtained permission to hold their meetings in an abandoned school building, located just east and north of the Railroad Depot. The first meeting in the school house was held on February 18, 1896. Heat was furnished by fireplaces, wood being the fuel and candles gave the light.
A long, covered hitch rack was erected to the south of the Lodge Hall. This was used by the members riding or driving horses.
The stated meetings were held-on the Wednesday evening, next preceding each and every full moon, unless the moon falls on that day, then the Lodge shall meet on that evening” (copied from the old By-laws.)
This was so arranged that the members would have moonlight to travel by. Some members not having horses walked three or four miles to attend the meetings.
Immediately after the fire, plans were made for a new three story brick building with basement. The basement and first floor was rented to David Mills and E. S. Mattern, partners in a general store. The second floor was a social room and the third floor was the Lodge Hall.
The last meeting held in the school house was on June 24, 1896. They then moved into their their first meeting in the new Hall July 22, 1896. In less than two months another fire destroyed the building and contents. Their last meeting in the new building was on September 16, 1896.
Just a few days after this meeting, there was a political rally in Bridgeport. The new building was lit up and was the center of attraction. During the height of the festivities the building caught fire and burned.
Once again, a duplicate Charter was secured and meetings were held in the school house. Their first meeting after the second fire was held on October 21, 1896. They continued meeting there until July 7, 1897.
At this time they were a truly “Blue Lodge” after suffering two fires. They were “blue,” but like other hardy pioneers, not disheartened. Immediately a building committee appointed to clear away, clean and sell the old brick.
The insurance the Lodge carried did not prove adequate for financing a new Lodge Hall as it had to be applied on debts of the destroyed building. However, “where there is a will, there is a way” and these same hardy pioneers found the way and as result, another new building was erected.
The first Meeting in this new building was held on August 11, 1897.
Looking through the oldest minute book which was started in 1880 (the other books being destroyed by fire) there is page after page with only Stated Meetings. After finishing the business on hand, degree work was exemplified. Average attendance at these meetings was about five, in addition to the officers. Called meetings were few and far between
The history of our Lodge would be incomplete without a few words regarding the “Masonic Well.” It was drilled in the northeast comer of the lot and was so arranged so as to serve the public as well as the Lodge. A water trough was a feature of this well for the drivers of horses. As many as three or four could be watered at the same time.
Thousands of horses have been watered here as it was the only public watering place west of Indianapolis. Several pumps have been worn out and replaced. Grand Lodge has erected a cast aluminum historical marker at the site of the well.
During World War II, our Lodge had 29 members in the Armed Forces. Two of them, James F. Barnard and Theodore Gerth failed to come back. “Ted” lost his life on D day from a withering fire from the enemy while attempting a landing on the beach with his detachment. In memory of his son, Brother Past Master George C. Gerth presented a Masonic Library of 34 volumes to the Lodge. These books are available for our members to read.
The Lodge celebrated its 100th Anniversary on May 24, 1954 with a” dinner, re-dedication ceremony, entertainment and presentation of 25 year pins.
Many years passed, history was made, wars and depressions caused heartaches and sorrow, through all this Bridgeport Lodge continued to grow until it became necessary again to formulate plans for another new building. The plans were drawn, financing arranged and we moved into this new building in December 1958.
One of the most recent happy occasions was the Saturday night of October 19, 1963 when we celebrated the burning of the mortgage for this building with a pitch-in family style dinner and entertainment. At this dinner an enlarged copy of the mortgage was cut up into small strips and each person present was permitted to bum his or her portion.
In 2004 Bridgeport Lodge celebrated it’s 150th Anniversary.
One hundred and fifty five years of service to God, our members, the Masonic Fraternity and to the community.
Bridgeport Lodge will continue to grow, to serve and will continue to be known as one of the friendliest and one of the best lodges in the Indiana Masonic Fraternity.